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Call for business glass recycling target reduction

Defra has been urged to scale down targets for business glass recycling in response to concerns over unstable market prices.

The Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) made the recommendation following the publication of the GlassFlow report into a spike in glass PRN prices last year from around £10 a tonne to around £75. As a knock-on effect, the UK struggled to meet its EU recycling targets.

The GlassFlow report was commissioned by WRAP and drafted by packaging compliance scheme Valpak. It estimated between 2009 and 2010 the UK overstated its glass recycling by 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes because of fraudulent reporting of recycling by businesses.

ACP said fraudulent activity in the PRN market had been pinpointed as the main cause of the instability and that “no-one saw the price rise coming”.

The committee called on Defra to revise down business recycling targets for 2014 from 81% to 77%. It estimated this would achieve a recycling rate of 63-64%, comfortably over the EU’s 60% target.  

Defra is launching a consultation on amending glass recycling targets.Colin Church, director for resource and waste at Defra, referred to the ACP report on Twitter and said it “shows that previous industry figures on amount of glass packaging produced too high”, then adding:


Chris Taylor, PRN trader at Clarity Environmental said: “We expect glass PRN pricing to drop next year from the elevated prices witnessed for some time. Many feel that around £30 is a far more realistic price for a glass PRN.”

The GlassFlow report has been hailed by industry figures as giving a clearer view of the glass recycle market.

It found that despite market volatility UK recycling performance in 2012 was 68%, well over the EU directive packaging target of 60%.

It also found that on current projections the UK will exceed the 60% rate between 2013 and 2017 and that if current trends continue local authority commingled glass collections could reach 70%.

Valpak chief executive Steve Gough said the report gave the “clearest picture yet” of the glass market.

He added: “It will go a very long way to ensuring that glass recycling and the Packaging Regulations are designed and set in such a way as to deliver the EU Directive targets at lowest cost to business while encouraging higher quality and support to re-melt and other end markets.”

  • Correction: an MRW online story, ‘Valpak and WRAP to produce plastics flow report’, published on 22 October 2013 and issued in the daily newsletter contained an error and has been taken down.

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